I Love My Body

1-DSC_2611I am learning to love my body. I am increasingly in awe of it.

This is not a confession of  a narcissistic tendency to admiringly gaze into a pond or mirror. It is not about shallow feelings or ego. Quite the opposite, I am talking about a profound appreciation for the  mass of atoms that encapsulate my being.

My body has proven it is a remarkable corporeal vehicle. It has shown beyond doubt that it is capable of enduring an enormous battering.

As the anniversary of my cancer diagnosis drew near I found myself so thankful my body has made such a thorough recovery. That is why I am now Celebrating Survival Day. This date will be a permanent ‘Red Letter Day’ on my calendar.

The Recovery Path

In the last couple of months. I have significantly Recovered Taste After Chemo.

My sense of taste is not back to what it was. It may never get back there. But gee, it is far better than the horrible ordeal each meal was when I was taste ‘blind’.

In those days everything (and I literally mean salt, sugar, water and vinegar and every other morsel) simply had just one identical foul taste.

My Heroic Friend

I recently met up with a friend who had cancer in her saliva gland while mine was in the base of my tongue. We both went through similar treatment around the same time.

It is so hard to calculate how much my taste has recovered. I may have just forgotten how things used to taste. My rough estimate though is that my sense of taste, two and a half years after treatment ended, has recovered around 80-90%. Things do taste different, but they taste OK . Food and eating is finally enjoyable. And that makes a huge psychological difference and enhances my quality of life.

Sadly, my friend only rates her taste recovery at just 10%. That is terribly sad.

How I wish I had a magic wand or could help her in some tangible way.

She is coping with that deprivation though. She is happy to be alive. I guess all cancer sufferers understand that emotion. She is coping with the grim task of forcing down terrible tastes three times every day.

Day after day she is stoically enduring that torment. It is such an intense personal ordeal and she is truly worthy of  admiration.

Undeserved Good Luck

In contrast, I am incredibly lucky. I am so thankful for how my body has fought back. Especially when I know how she and other friends are having such a tough time fighting cancer.

My battle to recover after chemo and radiation seemed impossible at times.

Yet, somehow my cells are enduring. They seem to be behaving  and  replicating in a nice orderly manner, free of any nasty anomalies. I can’t claim any credit. I have done nothing noteworthy to bring about my recovery. I’ve just been taking it day by day.

The Shock of Cancer Diagnosis

There was the initial shock when cancer was diagnosed. It was the first time my body had ever let me down.

I initially felt a significant loss of confidence. My mortal vulnerability was now beyond doubt. Any lingering youthful delusions of being bullet-proof or invincible were destroyed.

Then as the treatment took its toll, I wondered whether my heart could endure or whether the chemo toxins would cause it to simply shudder and surrender.

As I’ve previously explained, those dark days were a torrid physical time.

However, it was also a time of great emotional growth as I learned The Beauty of Being Wretched.

Maybe I am being overly optimistic. Perhaps I should not be regaining such confidence. My cells may not be able to maintain a straight course. But, they have carried me through a dark period and have rebuilt strength to the point that I am really enjoying life again.

I am very thankful for the great job they do.

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  1. Dana Hansen says:

    My name is Dr. Dana Hansen, Assistant Professor of Nursing at Kent State University. You can learn more about me by visiting my faculty web page at http://www.kent.edu/nursing/facstaff/bio/~dhansen1/
    We are contacting you because you are listed as the contact person of the blog. My research team and I are interested in learning about the family caregiver’s experience with reading their loved one’s illness blog.
    A family caregiver is someone who provides emotional, spiritual, or physical care or support to a loved one.
    I was inspired to conduct this research during my sister-in-law’s journey through breast cancer. After interacting on her blog, I began to wonder what it was like for her husband (family caregiver) to read her blog. The family caregiver of the person who is writing the illness blog can find out more about our study by going to our study website: https://nursing.kent.edu/caretaker. There is a screen for you to share your contact information if you are interested in participating.
    After we receive your information, we will contact you to discuss the study further and establish a time to conduct a 1 hour phone or Skype (your choice) interview. During the interview, we will ask questions about your experience as a caregiver interacting with your loved one on an illness blog. A nominal onetime payment of $50.00 will be mailed to you once the interview is complete.
    Participation is voluntary. Refusal to take part in the study involves no penalty or loss of benefits to which participants are otherwise entitled. Participants may withdraw from or stop the study at any time without penalty or loss of benefits to which they are otherwise entitled.
    If you are not the family caregiver of the person with a serious illness, please forward this information to someone who is.
    Thank you for your time and consideration,
    Dr. Dana Hansen
    Dana Hansen RN, PhD
    Assistant Professor
    Kent State University, College of Nursing
    113 Henderson Hall, P. O. Box 5190, Kent, OH 44242

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